Take Five with Dave Potter

David Potter By

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About Dave Potter
Dave Potter is quickly becoming known as a formidable musician. He has performed with many well-known jazz artists and recorded four albums with Jason Marsalis. Following his graduation from Florida State University in 2005, he was chosen from a national pool of applicants to be a member of the Louis Armstrong Quintet at the University of New Orleans. Unfortunately, the tragedy of hurricane Katrina temporarily ended his hopes for a career in Louisiana. In the spring of 2006, Dave was awarded a full scholarship to the prestigious Julliard Jazz Program in New York City. However, after several days of intense meditation he declined the offer and returned to Florida State University, where he received his Master's Degree in the winter of 2008 after further collaboration with his mentor Marcus Roberts. In 2010, Potter was featured in a novel entitled The New Face of Jazz about the younger generation of jazz musicians currently making an impact. Dave is now located in Atlanta where he maintains a busy teaching and performing schedule while also touring the globe as a member of The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet. In August of 2017, his first album was released internationally on Summit Records entitled You Already Know.


Teachers and/or influences?
I have been very lucky to be taught and mentored by a multitude of great musicians including Dr. Andrew Sioberg who introduced me to jazz, followed by Leon Anderson, Rodney Jordan, and Marcus Roberts who were my professors at Florida State University. Jason Marsalis continues to provide me with knowledge and mentorship as I serve as a member of his group. I try to listen to as many master drummers as possible, but some of my primary influences are Jeff "Tain" Watts, Frankie Dunlop, Tony Williams, Jo Jones, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Philly Joe Jones, Roy Haynes, Adam Cruz, Gregory Hutchinson, Billy Cobham, and Dennis Chambers.

I knew I wanted to be a musician when...
The initial practice session I had on my very first drum set at age 15. There was an immediate connection to the instrument and the immense joy and sense of personal fulfillment that it brought me.

Your sound and approach to music.
I think my sound encompasses not only all of my musical influences, but the experiences I have had in this world. I love all kinds of music, but jazz is my favorite and I make no apologies for that. My music is firmly rooted in the 100 years of recorded history of jazz, but it also influenced by the funk, r & b, rock, pop, and hip hop that I grew up listening to as well as the classical and latin music that I grew to love during my musical studies. I love music with a lot of energy and feeling, but groove is at the forefront of everything I do.

My approach to music is pretty simple and straight forward. To use a quote from Branford Marsalis, I try to "play what the music tells you to play." In other words, playing things that fit the context of the song or musical situation, and hopefully, I have done enough study on the backend to have the vocabulary or knowledge to do so.

Your teaching approach
I think the two most important things that I stress to students are to build a solid foundation of fundamental technique on your respective instrument coupled with the intense listening study of great musical performance.

Your dream band
I struggle when folks ask me about my dream band because I definitely have thought about the question before but as I get more experienced I feel that I would rather play in those members own bands versus an "all star" concept where people are unfamiliar with each other. I really regret the fact that I will never be able to play with Kenny Kirkland or Michael Brecker. Those two would definitely be on the list. I would also love to play with Branford Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Miguel Zenon, Joe Lovano, Danilo Pérez, Bob Hurst, and Cecile McLorin Salvant among others.

Road story: Your best or worst experience
The best road experience would have to be performing at the St. Bart's Music Festival two years in a row with Jason Marsalis. If you ever get to go, you will quickly see why celebrities and the ultra-rich constantly choose it for their vacations. It is truly and island paradise in every sense of the word.

The worst road experience was one in which the travel or accommodations were the problem. We had just began a two week tour and on the second day I thought I either had the beginning of head cold or allergies. By the 4th day I had a full blown fever of 102 along with body aches, congestion, etc. We were traveling to different destination almost every day and the schedule was very tight so I just continued to take over the counter medicine and tried to play through it. Upon returning home, the doctor told me that I had a bad sinus and ear infection the whole time and that I needed antibiotics immediately. I love going on tour, but being sick on the road is no joke.

Favorite venue
The Jazz Corner in Hilton Head, SC. They just do everything right. The acoustics are great, the backline is excellent, the food is 5 star, and they treat the musicians like royalty. A lot of the big city venues should take notes on how to properly run a jazz club from them.

Your favorite recording in your discography and why?
That would be the most current one which is You Already Know because it is the most recent and best representation of where I am in my life and musical journey.

What do you think is the most important thing you are contributing musically?

Did you know...
I am a huge movie buff, although, one of my big problems is that I have close to perfect recall with them, so I can usually only watch the same movie once every 10 years or so. Otherwise I remember everything that happens verbatim and it ruins the experience for me.

The first jazz album I bought was:
Monk's Dream by Thelonious Monk and I hated it for the first year I had it, but now it's one of my all-time favorites.

Music you are listening to now:
Miguel Zenon: Esta Plena (Marsalis Music)
Fredrik Kronkvist: New York Elements (Connective Records)
Miles Davis: In Europe (Columbia Records)
Ella Fitzgerald: Ella in Japan (Verve)
Joe Lovano: Quartets: Live at the Village Vanguard (Blue Note)

Desert Island picks:
Miles Davis: 4 and More (Columbia)
Thelonious Monk: Monk's Dream (Columbia)
Wynton Marsalis: Black Codes from the Underground (Columbia)
Ella Fitzgerald: Mack the Knife (Verve)
David Sanchez: Melaza (Columbia Records)
About Dave Potter
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